Comprehensive Exam

The Comprehensive Examination will assess the student's general preparedness for the PhD degree and specific areas in his or her chosen area of study and research. It will also assess the student's ability to integrate material from divergent areas, to reconcile theoretical, methodological and empirical issues, and to think creatively. The comprehensive examination will be an oral examination conducted by the Comprehensive Examination Committee.

The examination committee will consist of the Chair, members of the Dissertation Committee, plus at least one additional member that is external to the Supervisory Committee, but is a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies

The Chair of the Comprehensive Examination is normally the Coordinator of the Biotechnology PhD Program. If the Coordinator is the student’s Supervisor or Co-Supervisor, a replacement will be appointed. All members of the Comprehensive Examination committee must be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The members of the Examination Committee will be set early in the second term. The form Composition of the Examination Committee should be submitted to the Biotechnology PhD coordinator at the start of the second term. The student, in consultation with the supervisor and supervisory committee will initiate the process of the Comprehensive Examination. 

The comprehensive examination must be completed no later than 12 months after initial registration. Only two attempts at the comprehensive examination will be permitted. Students who fail the second attempt will be required to withdraw from the PhD Program.

The scope of the examination will be determined by the student in consultation with the Supervisor and the Committee. Approval of the scope should occur early enough to provide the student ample time to prepare for the exam. The study period will be determined by the committee, and it is recommended that the first exam takes place early enough to allow time for a second exam if necessary.

 

Comprehensive Examination Process and Related Forms

1. Composition of Comprehensive Examination Committee

The student, in consultation with the supervisor and supervisory committee will initiate the process of the Comprehensive Examination.  The examination committee will consist of the Chair, members of the Dissertation Committee, plus at least one additional member. The Chair of the Comprehensive Examination is normally the Coordinator of the Biotechnology PhD Program. If the Coordinator is a student’s Supervisor or Co-Supervisor, a replacement will be appointed. All members of the Comprehensive Examination committee must be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The selected additional member should be familiar with the student's research area.

PhD Form 3: COMPOSITION OF COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION COMMITTEE

 

2. Prepare Scope of Comprehensive Examination

The scope of the examination will be determined in consultation with the Comprehensive Examination Committee and agreed upon by the middle of the second term. The committee may meet with the student to talk about the proposed project and area of concentration, to set the scope of the exam, and to set a date. This may be done at the end of the students Thesis Proposal Presentation, at a separate meeting or via email. Typically four to five areas of concentration are identified. The student compiles a list of articles, review papers, or book chapters to be circulated among the committee members. The members will ensure that the papers are appropriate, and may make suggestions for changes. The list of these materials must be provide to the Biotechnology Program Office along with the signed form and any email contact indicating that the members approve the scope package. Students are usually given four to six weeks to prepare for the Examination. It is recommended that the exam take place early enough to allow time for a second exam if necessary.

PhD Form 4: SCOPE OF COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

 

3. Comprehensive Examination – format and duration

The Comprehensive Examination is normally an oral examination. The chair of the Examination Committee will announce that the Comprehensive Examination of the PhD student has started. The exam involves two rounds of questioning, where each examiner is allowed 15 minutes to question the student and the total `questioning period` is expected to last approximately two hours, with the total examination taking between 2-3 hours. The PhD student will be asked to leave the room prior to discussion by the committee and be asked to return once the committee has reached a consensus. Note that the Comprehensive Examination may include a written component, if recommended by the Comprehensive Examination Committee.

 

 4. Results of Comprehensive Examination

The results of the Examination will be documented in writing on the Results of Comprehensive Examination form and signed by the Examination Committee members.  At the end of the Examination the student will be asked to leave the room and the Examination will be evaluated as Pass/Conditionally Pass/Fail. The student will be provided results by the Chair.

PhD form5: RESULTS OF COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION